She’s faced creatures coming out of coworkers’ chests like the iconic Ripley in Alien, survived demonic possession in Ghostbusters, and hung out with apes in Gorillas in the Mist, and yet Sigourney Weaver says her last His role has been one of his most difficult yet: that of a fierce and uncompromising… flower grower.
As the owner of the lush Thornfield Flower Farm at the center of the new seven-part Amazon Prime Video series The Lost Flowers Of Alice Hart, her character June is surrounded by the native flora of her Australian plantation.
But don’t be fooled. The beauty of the setting masks a story as dark and tangled as it seems.
“It’s not a story of fragile flowers,” she says. “It’s a very tough story that gets to the bottom of things in the most powerful and imaginative way. There is a real passion behind it, a real understanding.
Based on the 2018 bestselling novel by Holly Ringland, it centers on Alice, a girl who learns the hard way that in order to be free from her past, she has to face it.
Sigourney Weaver says her latest role has been one of her toughest yet: that of a fierce and uncompromising… flower grower. Sigourney as June with Alycia Debnam-Carey as the adult Alice
At nine years old, she suffers her ultimate tragedy when her abusive father Clem (Charlie Vickers) and pregnant mother Agnes (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) are killed in a fire at their Queensland home.
The trauma renders Alice mute, and despite family friend Sally (Asher Keddie) wanting to adopt her, Alice is left in the care of her grandmother June, a woman she has never met.
June takes Alice to Thornfield, which is not only a flower farm, but also a shelter for women escaping domestic abuse. As Alice recovers, thanks to June’s partner Twig (Leah Purcell), her adoptive daughter Candy (Frankie Adams), and the women at the shelter, who refer to themselves as The Flowers, she begins to realize that June is not all she seems and may be burying more secrets than seedlings in the fertile soil.
Holly was inspired by the ‘language of flowers’, intertwining this unspoken language with the story of Alice being rendered mute by the death of her parents.
“When I discovered the ‘language of flowers,’ where in Victorian England people talked to each other with elaborate bouquets, each carrying a message, that was the moment of the light bulb,” says Holly.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to make up a native Australian flower language as a way for the women in my story to say the things that are too hard to say, until they realize there are some things flowers can’t say.’ . .”‘
The story spans 14 years, with nine-year-old Alice played by Alyla Browne (who starred with Nicole Kidman in Nine Perfect Strangers) and Alycia Debnam-Carey playing the adult Alice.
“The book was timeless, with important themes to discuss, and an incredible story driven by women,” says Alycia. “It spoke to me on so many levels.”
As the owner of the lush Thornfield Flower Farm at the center of the new seven-part Amazon Prime Video series The Lost Flowers Of Alice Hart, her character June is surrounded by the native flora of her Australian plantation. Young Alice with her mother Agnes
At times it is an uncomfortable watch. In one scene, June goads an abusive husband into physically attacking her so he can be locked up so he can no longer terrorize her wife.
The grown-up Alice later embarks on a relationship with the charismatic Dylan (Sebastian Zurita), only to discover that he is not all he seems. As Sigourney says, “This is not a romantic story about women living together.”
June’s motives may be genuine, but her methods are suspect (her off-limits shed is a repository of secrets and lies).
“I’ve never played a character like June,” says Sigourney. She has so many layers, like a box with secret drawers. But she is very loyal and fierce. She wants to protect the community from her. She takes these problems personally and literally protects the place.
Made by the producers of the Emmy-winning Big Little Lies, the series was filmed in New South Wales and Sigourney says her screen grit has deserted her.
“Australians are proud to have the top ten most venomous snakes in the world, but I was terrified. I tried to find Ripley in myself and I was like, “Where is she?”
June has so many layers. She is fierce. This is not a romantic story about women living together.
The story may be set in Australia and written by a Queenslander, but it has ties to Britain. Holly wrote it here, after moving to Manchester in 2009 to do an MA in creative writing.
Not coincidentally, the farm’s name reflects Thornfield Hall, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre home.
‘In Manchester it was an hour from the Bronté house. I would drive out to the moors and sit with the ghosts of the sisters.
Holly says that fear initially prevented her from writing the book, which was published to great acclaim.
‘There was a story inside of me that I was afraid to tell. About a girl with a wild imagination, growing up with the long shadow of trauma over her life. The genesis was confronting the realities of the violence perpetrated by men, with which I have lived much of my life, and the beauty and joy that can save us.’
Sigourney agrees. ‘Every woman can relate to the message of this show. “You are not alone, you need to communicate so we can bring you.” It is so true of women. Our arms are open, especially when someone is in trouble. It’s happened to so many women, so I hope this series helps start conversations.’
The Lost Flowers Of Alice Hart will be available to stream from Friday on Amazon Prime Video.